The final stage of a project is always stressful because the launch is just round the corner and we want to fine-tune the project to perfection.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Three of us set up 2FRESH back in 2006. Then, in our very first year, we won project tenders for brands such as Telefónica O2 and Mars (Twix, Snickers). Our direct clients now include such names as Red Bull, Lego and CME. What is more, as partner to the Mark BBDO advertising agency 2FRESH also works for Pepsi, Nike, ČEZ and many more. 2F now concentrates on looking for opportunities abroad with agencies such as Avantgarde, JWT and Contract Advertising.
What do you do for inspiration?
We inspire each other – we send each other links to websites that have caught our attention, we share Delicious, Google Reader. We also get a lot from the people that work with us. Some of them overlap into the art scene, others have a strong tie to computer games from the past. It is thanks to this mix of personalities that our ideas are created, a combination of all these influences.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
The two FWA awards we have won :-). The competition involved in the FWA is huge and we were able to compete against the very best from all over the world. If we are ever able to make it into the Hall of Fame, it will be the greatest satisfaction of all.
How many hours do you work each week?
Fifty to sixty. The longest we have ever worked in one go was two nights and almost three days – we found ourselves in a bit of a different dimension :-). We remember it to this day. We work as long as circumstances dictate. People that do not take their work as a mission or who are unable to organise their time well do not last long in our team. It really does require the whole person.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
It is not even a matter of how many projects we are dealing with at one time, but more whether several of them have the same launch date. The final stage of a project is always stressful because the launch is just round the corner and we want to fine-tune the project to perfection. We had a situation a few months back when we launched 3 projects at the same time. One of them was a personalised video microsite for Nike designed for runners that was hooked up to a treadmill in the Nike stand at the PIM. We first took photographs of the runners, spirited their faces on to video and they would then watch an action film with the runner in the starring role while they ran the treadmill. It wore us out a bit, but we are absolutely responsible in these sorts of matters. We always know in advance whether we will be able to cope with this sort of load. We know the workload of the whole team for weeks in advance and are therefore able to estimate if it will go to the wire or not.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
It is always about creativity and effectiveness in online marketing (and elsewhere too). Whereas in the past creativity was usually in first place, a whole host of tools aimed at effectiveness have recently been created and are more and more sophisticated. Most recently we have been taken by the remote user testing segment, where there are lots of interesting tools such as ClickTale (http://www.clicktale.com/) or Notable and Verify from Zurb (http://www.zurb.com/).
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Only three? That’s a difficult one. :) We have been admirers of Big Spaceship for some time now, so we would definitely put them in first place. We also have great respect for the work of agencies such as The North Kingdom, Your Majesty and Gringo.
Who is your target audience?
Only two years ago we worked exclusively for local brands of corporations. Now, however, there is far greater interest in our services from communication agencies. One example is our cooperation with the MARK BBDO agency (four times agency of the year in the Czech Republic) and with KASPEN/JUNG von MATT, for whom we are handling digital projects for their clients - Nike, Pepsi, Lays, Budweiser Budvar, etc. In these cases we do not simply create the projects, but have the opportunity to influence and shape their creativity from the very beginning. This is genuine partnership that suits both parties down to the ground. We have also been able to work with foreign agencies thanks to our FWA awards – JWT from Dubai and Avantgarde from Germany. It was an entirely new work experience for us, for which we are hugely grateful. This situation is the natural result of the situation on the market, where the clients of communication agencies are allocating bigger and bigger budgets to their digital campaigns.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
We received our first “Site of the day” award in 2009 for a microsite for Telefónica O2. The second came a year later for the Nutcase microsite for MARS, which pleased us immensely. Unfortunately, not many clients in the Czech Republic know the FWA awards. Our awards are mainly noted by the professional public, who understand the FWA awards as confirmation of the quality of our work. The other side of the coin is that this is a major commitment for us, motivation for the future.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
We don’t consider ourselves the sort of people to just roll over and let someone do as they please. That sort of approach might generate an alibi in terms of why a project is not successful, but most certainly does not guarantee that it will meet the objectives set out. And precisely these objectives are most important. We work best with clients that are interested in talking about a project with us and that are able to burrow into themselves a bit. Only like that can you create a project that is truly outstanding. All clients should be like that! They are not, of course. In fact direct communication is not always possible with the clients of our partner agencies (Mark BBDO, Kaspen, Avantgarde, JWT etc.). And that is another challenge for us. We set out to break down the communication barriers. :)
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
Last year we handled the Refresh Your World digital communication project for Pepsi in the Czech Republic. The point was that people could change the appearance of bus stops where they lived by sending their designs to the www.refreshyourworld.cz microsite. The winning designs were then actually brought to life as new bus stops in several Czech cities. However, we came across certain mayors during the campaign that in spite of their original agreement eventually said no to the reconstruction of the bus stops. We therefore changed the original concept of the campaign to Manifesto for mayors and invited site visitors to support us, together fighting against bureaucracy at city level. We got visitors to the www.refreshyourworld.cz site involved in this and a community of users on Facebook. People took the challenge as their own and themselves contacted mayors in their cities and villages. This all gave rise to the Manifesto video, in which people hold their designs for the reconstruction of bus stops in their hands and join us in calling on the bold mayors of the Czech Republic to let their ideas become reality. The result? Some 160 bold mayors responded in the space of 14 days with their agreement to our bus stop reconstruction. It was a case of social media breaking down the bureaucratic barrier.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Let us specify where we are starting out from. Websites and mainly applications are becoming an integrated part of human life. If the increasing availability of internet connection in portable devices such as mobile telephones or tablets is now of key importance, it is fair to say that web applications are applied also in areas where this was hitherto impossible and need not necessarily concern only location based services. Another trend is the shift to cloud computing and centralised data storage, which are available anywhere and anytime thanks to mobile access.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
We are obviously proud of both projects for which we won “Site of the day”. We value most highly the sorts of projects in which we ourselves move forward in some way – technologically, experience-wise, team-wise and so on. Projects in which we leave our hearts and souls, blood, sweat and tears. :) Our latest project for Lego, the www.budemesihrat.cz competition microsite, is one such project.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I hope that Flash does not squander the advantage it has held over all other technology for so many years. If it does happen, though, I won’t shed any tears for Flash. It is a tool just like any other. It is the stories we want to tell that are important.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Fight faster, harder, stronger! Meaning the inner fight, of course :)
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It is more difficult to find outstanding people here in the Czech Republic because we are a small country of 10 million. We are not saying they are not here; just that it is more difficult to find them. That is why we really pulled out all the stops and went right for the very best in the field. The process took more than three years and only at the end of this one we can say we have a complete and stable team.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
References and client satisfaction with the process of creation and the actual results of work. Those are the most important attributes with which we attract new clients. The vast majority of new clients have always come on the back of a recommendation from another client. Another important factor was that each new client fell in love with our work so far and wanted the results of their project to be even better than what everyone else had. :) It is a challenge we accept and have to come to grips with if we want to win even more new clients.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
In terms of technological innovation it has to be Japan. What we talk about in Europe as innovation is an entirely common part of life in Japan. As far as interactive communication is concerned, the winner is Sweden. What else is there to do when the weather’s like that? :)
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
Clients predominantly see us as an Internet agency at the moment. To put it simply, however, we want to focus on everything digital in the future, meaning interface for digital devices such as touch screens, interactive installations, subtitles for films, GUI for navigation and so on.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Now you’re just playing into our hands. :) Yesterday we finished reading Rework from 37signals, where we found plenty of wise words. In fact we would just like to thank the two authors for the inspiration! We were enthused by the idea of allowing people to look behind the scenes, showing off how it works here and building a different relationship with them like that. We will definitely do something with that – we already have it in the plans, in fact. :)
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
We appreciate to have an interview on www.thefwa.com!